Episode 2

Amelia Martens and Marianne Moore

Amelia Martens is the author of four chapbooks and the full-length collection The Spoons in the Grass are There to Dig a Moat. Her work has appeared in The Indianapolis Review, Cream City Review, Diode, Southern Humanities Review, Plume, Southern Indiana Review, and many others. She serves as the Associate Literary Editor for Exit 7: A Journal of Literature and Art and she co-curates the Rivertown Reading Series in Paducah, Kentucky.

Marianne Moore (1887-1972) was born near St. Louis, Missouri, raised in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and she graduated from Bryn Mawr College. Early on, she worked as a schoolteacher and as an assistant at The New York Public Library. From 1925 to 1929, she was the editor of The Dial, an influential literary magazine. Her Collected Poems, published in 1951, won the Bollingen Prize, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.

Links:

Read "The Apology" and "The Secret Lives of Cows"

Read "A Jelly-Fish"

Amelia Martens

Amelia Martens’ website

“Amelia Martens, a Natural Born Poet,” Something from Nothing podcast at WKMS  

Four poems at The American Journal of Poetry

Two poems at Plume

Two poems at Diode

Three poems at Tenderbox

Marianne Moore

Poems and bio at the Poetry Foundation's website 

Poems and bio at Poets.org

“In Praise of the Difficult: On Marianne Moore, Defiant Poet of Complexity” at LitHub

"NYPL's Marianne Moore: Writing Her Way Onto the Shelves" at NYPL.org

Marianne Moore documentary from the Voices and Visions series (on YouTube)

Music is by Chad Crouch.

Mentioned in this episode:

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Transcript
Alan May:

Welcome to The Beat. Today, we’ll hear three poems read by the poet Amelia Martens. The first two poems, “The Apology” and “The Secret Lives of Cows,” are from Martens’ book The Spoons in the Grass Are There to Dig a Moat. The third poem you’ll hear Martens read is “A Jelly-Fish," written by the poet Marianne Moore and published in 1909.

Amelia Martens:

"The Apology"

And the apology I made for you came from a willow tree. From a lemon. From some mud I found in the living room. Our daughter thinks you are a giant. She asks you to lift the house, so she can put her dolls in timeout. There is a crack in the back of my mind and I am filling it up with forget-me-nots and sailor’s knots and do nots. There is a place behind my retina where I am fragile. If I see a sun, if I see a squid, if I see something shiny, I should pick it up. I should turn my head. I should stop watching you while you sleep because I am going to wake you up. I am going to wake up. I am sorry and you have gone to buy more mousetraps.

"The Secret Lives of Cows"

They do not type letters to Famer Brown. They do not jump over the moon. They are not sold to buy magic beans. They do not kick lanterns and ignite Chicago. All night long they breathe cold air, their nostrils damp thimbles. They tamp earth down to the dust it has been for millennia. All night long they nurse an ache, a tender machine in the underbelly, which never goes dormant. Not even during the flood, when they raise their heads from the second-floor porches and watch pastures drift away.

This next poem is by the poet Marriane Moore, and it is in public domain. It's called "A Jelly-Fish."

Visible, invisible,

A fluctuating charm,

An amber-colored amethyst

Inhabits it; your arm

Approaches, and

It opens and

It closes;

You have meant

To catch it,

And it shrivels;

You abandon

Your intent—

It opens, and it

Closes and you

Reach for it—

The blue

Surrounding it

Grows cloudy, and

It floats away

From you.

Alan May:

You just heard Amelia Martens reading her poems “The Apology” and “The Secret Lives of Cows.” She followed by reading “A Jelly-Fish" by Marianne Moore. Martens was kind enough to record these poems for us at her home in Paducah, Kentucky. Amelia Martens is the author of four chapbooks and the full-length collection The Spoons in the Grass are There to Dig a Moat published by Sarabande Books. Her work has appeared in The Indianapolis Review, Cream City Review, Diode, Southern Humanities Review, Plume, Southern Indiana Review, and many others. She received an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council in 2019 and an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women in 2021. She holds both an MFA in Creative Writing and an MS in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education from Indiana University. She serves as the Associate Literary Editor for Exit 7: A Journal of Literature and Art and she co-curates the Rivertown Reading Series. She is married to the poet Britton Shurley, and together they have two daughters. Marianne Moore lived from 1887 to 1972. She was born near St. Louis, Missouri, raised in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and eventually she earned a BA in biology and histology at Bryn Mawr College. In her early years, she worked as a schoolteacher, as an assistant at The New York Public Library, and, from 1925 to 1929, she was the editor of The Dial, an influential literary magazine. Marianne Moore published several books of poetry; her Collected Poems, published in 1951, won the Bollingen Prize, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. A celebrity in her time, Moore was featured in Life Magazine, The New York Times, and The New Yorker and she was often seen wearing black capes and tricorn hats. She loved sports, including baseball and boxing, and, in fact, she wrote the liner notes for Muhammad Ali’s album I Am the Greatest. Look for books by Amelia Martens and Marianne Moore in our online catalog or call us at the Reference Desk at Lawson McGhee Library. Also look for links in the show notes. Please join us next time for The Beat.

About the Podcast

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The Beat
A poetry podcast

About your host

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Alan May

Alan May works as a reference librarian at Lawson McGhee Library. In his spare time, he reads and writes poetry. May's most recent books are Dead Letters (2008) and More Unknowns (2014). His poems have appeared in The New York Quarterly, The Hollins Critic, The New Orleans Review, Plume, and others.